New Dimond Teacher Has Large Role in Japanese Program

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The legendary Miyuki Imai left the Japanese Immersion Program last school year, leaving the position as teacher of the AP Japanese class, the freshman class and Honors Japanese class to be filled by Daisaku Yamamoto, the new Japanese teacher.

Yamamoto recently came from County, Ohio.

Yamamoto said, ¨I have been teaching for 10 years. I taught at Benjamin Logan which is a high school and middle school. I love my job as a teacher and I really like Dimond!¨
Victoria Gellert, a Japanese teacher at Dimond for the Language Immersion nine through 12, said, “I just met him and have been getting to know him. He’s got a really big role to fill. 

“He teaches AP class and there is the Adopt a Student Program class. We do all these extra things like the Fall family dinner and completion ceremony and the Japanese Speech Contest. 

“So he’s got a big role.”

Yamamoto teaches the students about the Japanese culture, a student’s life in Japan, the language and making connections to Japanese people in the community. 

Making the change from teaching in Ohio to teaching in Alaska was not difficult, although he did notice a difference.

Yamamoto said, ̈They use Chromebooks and PCs, but not many Macs.¨

The Japanese Program started in 1990 and some years more kids seem to be joining and other years not as many join.

Gellert said, “It just depends on how many kids are allowed to enroll as kindergarteners. So usually it’s kind of limited to 50.

“There have been tons where we’ve had like three classes kind of going through with maybe less I don’t know how they do it. 

She continued saying, “So there have been times where there have been a bigger initial group class. 

“Seventy-five starting, but generally we only have 50 that start and a couple of people come in mid program. 

¨But they have like Japanese parents or something that helps them learn Japanese.¨

Gellert has been teaching for 22 years.

Gellert said, “I like teaching kids about Japan, because I think it’s so different than America. It’s all like based on a totally different tradition. Totally different history. 

“So even if they never go on to use Japanese as adults I think it just kind of trains them to think about life in a different way and start practicing to think about things in more than one perspective.”

There are some students at Dimond High School who have been learning Japanese since kindergarten.

Shayenne Thomas a Dimond senior, said, “I have been in the Japanese Immersion program for 13 years and I enjoy speaking japanese.”

The Japanese language can be taught in many different ways.

Thomas said, “Imai sensei had a more set schedule and liked to include us in presentations. Yamamoto sensei is more detailed and talks a lot more.

“We learn about the Japanese culture and traditions. It’s pretty interesting, because we learn about the school and about how different it is.”

Learning another language can be a very powerful thing. Not only does it teach people to speak in a different way, but it also allows a person to learn about a different way of life. 

Gellert said, “I think it is really valuable. I think it helps you just think about everything in a different way and it’s good for your brain to learn how to function in two modes.¨

The Japanese culture is something to be appreciated.

Gellert said, “There are some really strong characteristics of Japanese people that would be specifically cool if you picked up on. Just being organized and structured, but also Japanese people are very nice and very interested in new things.”

Thomas said, “I have experienced a lot of things, because of Japanese. I have done different activities, such as being a part of National Speech Contests and doing the Declamation. 

“It has opened my horizons to other things and have made me more tolerant of people. I know more things, because of Japanese.”

Although learning another language can be quite difficult at times. It is quite clear that taking the time and effort to learn Japanese can lead to many amazing memories and experiences.

Japanese Immersion not only allows you to learn a different culture and language, but it also gives you a chance to take on life in a different perspective.

Thomas said, “The immersion is a really good opportunity to be in and I’m grateful for it.”